Buying a House
Buying a home is a big decision. The financial and emotional stakes are high, but the rewards can make it all worth it. This material can help you prepare to start your home-buying journey.
If you’ve been waiting for the best time to buy a home, your wait might be over. In fact, taking a number of factors into consideration, buying a home before 2014 could save you a lot of money.
Here are just a few reasons why? This is why now is the time to buy!
- Interest rates will rise
- Home prices are on the rise
- Homes are still affordable
- To protect yourself from inflation
The Benefits of Home Ownership
Plain and simple, owning a home can improve your quality of life, provide stability and give you a sense of control you just can’t get from renting. You have a place to live when you rent, but buying is something much deeper – and better.
The intangibles are tough to measure, but there are other benefits you can quantify:
Your monthly mortgage payment creates equity for you, not your landlord.
The interest on your mortgage is a tax deduction:
While this isn’t a reason in itself to buy a home, it’s nice to get a break at tax time.
Fixed monthly housing payment:
If you opt for a fixed-rate mortgage, the monthly rate of your mortgage won’t change for the length of the term.
The Importance of a Buyer’s Agent
A real estate transaction is a complex process involving stacks of paperwork and a number of outside service providers and contractors.
An experienced buyer’s agent can guide you through the process, answering your questions and serving as your advocate (see the Anatomy of a Home Purchase). Your agent will help you find the property that fits your needs, submit offers and counteroffers, suggest a good property inspector and other professionals, and provide all sorts of relevant advice.
With a buyer’s agent, you’ll have someone on your side, looking out for your interests every step of the way.
Deciding Where to Live
If you’re unfamiliar with the area where you’re moving, your buyer’s agent is an invaluable resource. He or she can offer insider knowledge on neighborhoods, schools, access to recreation and shopping districts, and the many other details on local neighborhoods and subdivisions.
It’s important to have a clear picture on the features that matter most to you in a home or location. Creating a list of “must haves” and flexible “nice-to-haves” from the start will make things a lot easier for you.
Anatomy of a Home Purchase
For most people, finding the right home begins with a house-hunting strategy combining personal preferences, guidance from others (including an agent) and a mix of neighborhood exploring and online search.
For some, the search takes a while; others find what they want right away. In either case, your real estate agent can be a huge resource of insight and guidance, working through issues or complications that arise along the way.
Here’s a general outline of what to expect during a home purchase, from the buyer’s perspective.
Buyers make a purchase offer.
This is it! You’ve found the home of your dreams, looked over disclosure documents, reviewed comparable sales data, talked it over with your agent and submitted an offer. The sellers may accept your first offer, but more often will return a counteroffer. In fact, additional negotiations are common, and your agent will help you through this generally stressful stage.
How Much House Can You Afford?
Knowing how much you can afford to pay is a crucial step in your search. Nailing down your budget early will make the overall process more focused and less stressful.
Here’s a good way to figure out how much you can afford:
The 28/36 Rule
The 28/36 rule is an established benchmark used by many lenders to determine how much credit to offer you. Here’s how it works:
The “28” refers to the notion that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly household income should go toward housing costs, which include mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance.
To calculate, simply multiply your gross monthly income (amount before taxes) by .28. Use this amount as a guide for how much house you can afford.